JETBLAST: BUFFALO @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

Buffalo Sabres (13-16-2)  at  Winnipeg Jets (15-10-6) 7:00 p.m., MTS Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290

The Jets and Sabres match up for the second time this season Tuesday night when Buffalo visits the MTS Centre trying to even the season series. Winnipeg won the first contest 2-1 in Buffalo, a not so inspiring effort that night but a win none the less. The biggest difference now however is the Buffalo Sabres who may be one of the hottest teams in the NHL, winning 4 straight and 5 of 6. If the Jets come out with the same performance they put in the last time these teams met, they will be in big trouble against this much tougher Sabres team. A cross conference match up pits the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets, Lets Go!

Sabres

At one point this season the Sabres appeared to be not only the worst team this season, but one of the worst teams historically. The NHL is a funny place though, just a couple weeks later the Sabres have become one of the hottest teams in the league and are 7-3 in their last 10. They have also worked themselves all the way to within 4 points of the playoffs. Playoffs!? A week ago putting playoffs and Sabres in the same sentence usually also involved the phrase 2018, but though it is probably still improbable, the Sabres have at least given fans a reason to keep watching. The one negative coming into tonight for the Buffalo Sabres is that they will be coming into tonight’s game on the back of end of a back to back. Last night the Sabres fought a tough battle with the Ottawa Senators in Buffalo, that took them all the way to a shootout before they could knock off the Sens by a 5-4 score. The extra time as well as the travel from Buffalo will be sure to take its toll on the Sabres but this team has proven that they are fighters in the last couple weeks, and the Sabres will not be pushovers for anybody.

Jets

The Winnipeg Jets have lost two in a row here for the first time in a while, and a badly in need of a win. Looking at  the schedule not so long ago this probably seemed like a perfect game to bust a bit of a slump, now however the Sabres are a little bit of a scary team. The Jets do have the advantage of being fresh, though that did not help them out all that much against Anaheim. The Jets kept up with the Ducks in their first match up but on Saturday Anaheim really showed the reason why they are the top team in the league and why though the Jets have made progress, they are not quite there yet. The Ducks took that game by a 4-1 score  and thoroughly dominated the Jets for most of the night. The Jets offense may have a chance to break out here however, as though the Sabres have been winning, preventing goals has not been their strong suit recently. The Sabres have given up 3 goals or more in each of their last 3 and it has been a struggle all year. Though the Jets blue line in banged up the forwards are playing at full strength and this may be the opportunity they need to bust out. The Jets will need it if they want to get back to their winning ways.

Keys to the Game

Band-aid Blue Line: The Jets are out yet another defenseman as arguably their most skilled blue liner Jacob Trouba has not taken the ice the last two nights and though the Jets have yet to announce anything this looks like a long term injury. Losing Trouba will be the Jets biggest loss this season, as he may be their most important player, both currently, and definitely for the future. Turning to tonight however, this patch work defense must be able to pull together and keep up the high level of play the Jets have become accustomed to.

Play tough: The Sabres struggle in their own zone and it results in a lot of goals against. This is the perfect time for the Jets to use their tough forecheck to get in on the Sabres D and force some end zone turnovers. The Sabres will be playing with some fatigue as well so if the Jets can play physical they will give themselves a huge advantage.

Penalty Kill: The Winnipeg Jets had one of the best penalty kills in the league early this season but recently have seen their kill percentage plummet, and seem to be giving up at least one goal on the kill every game. The amount of penalties is obviously a factor, they’re number 1 in the league in PIMs, but the the Jets need to be better shorthanded.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (9-8-4) GAA: 2.32 SV% .914
Michale Neuvirth (3-6-1) GAA: 2.87 SV% .920

Injuries

Enstrom, WPG, (LBI) out
Trouba, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Bogosian, WPG, (LBI) out

Mitchell, BUF, (LBI) day-to-day
Weber, BUF, (Knee) out
McCormick, BUF, (LBI) day-to-day
Hackett, BUF, (Torn ACL) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-2-3
Sabres: 7-3-0

Prediction

Jets sweep season series
Jets 5  Sabres 2

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Diehard Winnipeg sports fan. Agree or disagree with something I wrote? Find me on twitter @seantheoilcan and let me know Go Jets Go!